John Blacking: African music

John Blacking was Professor of anthroplogly at Queen’s University between 1969 and 2000.  After a BA degree under Prof. Meyer Fortes at King College and Cambridge, he moved to South Africa to work with the famous Prof. Hugh Tracey.  He did there a PhD (with a dissertation on Venda music), then obtained a lectureship and eventually a professorship at the University of Witwatersrand.

BlackingIn 1969, after problems with the Apartheid administration, he moved to Queen’s University Belfast to take up the first chair of Anthropology in Ireland. He remained there until his passing away in 2000, supervising tens of students, many of whom Africans who subsequently returned to their country to develop musicology there (e.g. Prof. Joshua Uzoigwe).

For more on Blacking, see:

Mandela Honoris Causa

NELSON MANDELA was bestowed a degree “Honoris Causa” by Queen’s University Belfast in July 2008 “for distinction in public service”.

Here is a picture of the handing of his degree by Anthony O’Reilly in South Africa:

Mandela QUB

Here is Mandela’s acceptance speech – video recorded and projected on the day in Belfast:

And here is what the Belfast Telegraph wrote at the time:


Ahtletic Club, 1959

QUB Athletic Club 1959

© Queen’s University Athletic Club
More photographs on the University’s Flickr page:

  • John Riverson (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1960 and won in the 100 Yards in 10.4.
  • Michael Ekue (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1960 and won the Pole Vault with 3.66 and again in 1963 with 3.50.
  • George Deh (from Ghana) participated in the Northern Irish Championship of 1961 and won with a Discuss throw of 40.40.

Professor Akin O. Adesola

Akin Adesola came to Belfast in 1953 to study medicine. He graduated in 1956, did a year of  academic surgery at the Royal Hospital, then a postgraduate course between Belfast and London. In Belfast he stayed with the Gardiner family; his mentors were Prof Harold Rodgers and Prof. Richard Welbourn; his co-students were Sam Meshida (engineering) and George Johnston (medicine).

After returning to Nigeria, Akin Adesola became a lecturer at the University College Hospital Ibadan, then at the University of Lagos Medical School where he became Professor and head of Department in 1967. Followed a most successful national and international carreer which led him to become, among others, the Vice-Chancellor of the university of Ilorin and of the University of Lagos. Over the years he received many awards, one of which was an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast in 1989 – the first such doctorate for an African. In his later days, Prof. Adesola wrote his autobiogrpahy entitled A Bridge Endowed.

Graduation Gardiners   Adesol and the Gardiners

History of Africans in NI

WORKSHOP, Queen’s University Belfast

Auditorium, McClay Library, 17 June 2017, 1pm-5p

History: “History of Africans in Northern Ireland”, 1pm

Bill Hart (Ulster University), “Africans in 18th and 19th C. Northern Ireland”

Philippa Robinson, “The Irishman from West Africa. Dr Armattoe in Derry, 1938-50″

Eric Morier-Genoud (Queen’s University), “Africans at Queen’s University, 1942-68″

Rountable: “The Black Children of Ulster”, 3pm

Tim Brannigan, author of “Where are you really from?” (2010)

Annie Yellowe Palma, author of “For the Love of a mother” (2017)

Book launch, 4,30pm

        8321226         9781909465565  


Please register (free) for catering purposes on:

All welcome. Tea and coffee served between the panels.

With the support of the School of History, Anthropology, Politics & Philosophy

Prince Adedoyin

Prince Adegboyega Folaranmi Adedoyin

First African graduate of Queen’s University and participant in the 1948 Olympics

Olympics 2 261_2697

Prince Adegboyega Folaranmi Adedoyin was born in 1922, the son of the akarigbo [king] of Ijebu Remo in Southern Nigeria.

He came to study medicine in Belfast in 1942 on advice from his brother ‘Zik’ who was studying in London. Soon after arriving in Northern Ireland (by boat), he became involved in local sports. This came about almost inadvertently, after he was invited to join in by the coach of a University team he was watching play.

He immediately revealed talent. In a first mention in the Irish Times (14 May 1946), the jornalist mentionned that “Adedoyin, a tall West African, has both the build and style of an athlete, and shows great promise, particularly as regards high jump”.

A week later (22 May) the same newspaper noted: “When Adedoyin first appeared it seemed to be his intention to go boating at Islanbridge. For he wore immaculate white flannel trousers, a check-coat, and a hat. He strolled about, taking the sun, for no little time, while C. Fitzergerald (…) repeatedly tried to jump the bar”.

Adedoyin won many competitions and broke several records. Among others, in 1945 he broke the high jump record at Queen’s University; in 1946 he broke the record at the Universities Athletics Union’s championship (with 6ft 1 inch); and in 1947 he won the AAA Championships with a clearance of 1.93 metres.

In 1948, he attended the Olympic games where he did not win a place on the podium but produced the best results for the whole British team. Overall his best jumps 7.35 metres in the long jump (1947) and 1.969 metres in the high jump (1949).

After graduating in 1949, Adedoyin married Hannah Hotoba-During, a Sierra-Leonian who had grown up in Belfast, and together they moved to Liverpool for work purposes. Soon after, they moved to Sierra Leone and then to Nigeria. Prince Adedoyin passed away on 31 January 2014 in Nigeria.

Prof. Harold W. Rodgers

With no prior connection to Africa, Professor Harold W. Rodgers developed a keen and personal connection with the continent after moving to Queen’s University.

Born in India, Harold Rodger was the first Englishman to hold the chair in Surgery at Queen’s which he took up in 1947. In 1950 and 1951 he did a tour of West Africa for the Colonial Office and the Nuffield Foundation, from which he built personal links to Africa.

After 1950 Professor Rodgers maintained a keen interest in African affairs and looked after the African students at Queen’s University, no least the future Professor Akin O. Adesola (Queen’s first African Honoris Causa in 1989).

After his retirement in 1974, Prof. Rodger took up a post at the University of Ife, Nigeria, for three years – four years before Adesola became the Vice-Chancellor of the same institution.

Workshop “Africa in Ireland / Ireland in Africa”

11 May 2017, Trinity College, Dublin

Ireland in Africa2017

 1.     Africans in Ireland      

 09.30.   Bill Hart (Ulster University):   ‘American sources for a black presence in nineteenth-century Ireland’

 09.50. Eric Morier-Genoud (Queen’s University Belfast):  ‘Cosmopolitan Belfast? Africans and Africa at Queen’s University, 1941-1971’

10.10.  Abel Ugba (University of East London):  ‘Identity, belonging and media use by Irish Africans’

2.  African Studies in Ireland [A]

11.15.  Laura Brown (Maynooth University): ‘“They were a greasy, downtrodden lot”: Egypt and the perception of Egyptians in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan 1899-1956’

11.35.  Roger Boulter:  ‘Target Pretoria – Dieter Gerhardt and the Soviet penetration of the South African Defence Force’

11.55. Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses (Maynooth University),  ‘From metropolitan revolution to colonial exodus:  The fall of Portuguese Angola, 1974-5’

3.  African Studies in Ireland [B]

13.45.   Michelle D’Arcy (Trinity College Dublin): ‘The historical antecedents and contemporary political impact of devolution in Kenya’

14.05. Padraig Carmody (Trinity College Dublin):The geopolitics and economics of BRICS resource and market access in Southern Africa’

4. The Irish and Africa: Connections and reflections

14.45.  David Dickson (Trinity College Dublin): ‘The missionary motorist: Thomas Gavan Duffy’s Africa crossing, 1927-8’

15.05. Ailish Veale (Trinity College Dublin): ‘Irish Catholic medical missionaries in the development era’

15.25.  Kevin O’Sullivan (NUI Galway): ‘Lessons from Biafra’

15.40.  Tom Lodge (University of Limerick): The Irish Anti-Apartheid movement’

5. Keynote paper

16.30.   Donal McCracken (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban):  ‘The retreat down Africa. The Irish in Africa – Colonial running dogs or harbingers of change?’